In January, I wrote about my husband having a stroke on December 23. After he spent 6 days in a local hospital, 4 which were in intensive care, we went home to prescriptions, therapy, follow up appointments and our everyday life. We pretended everything was the same, except that it wasn’t. For him, everything was a challenge to prove that nothing was different with him, or wrong or even going on. Bill couldn’t remember things very well. His walking was a bit worse and his personality continued to change. And, well, things were definitely worse. But somewhat manageable.
Bill went back to work, I stayed home and worried.
A month later, on January 23, I talked to Bill while he was at work. He sounded disoriented, incoherent, and something was clearly wrong, I was afraid he was having another stroke, so we went back to the hospital. This time things were different. Even though he acted a bit similar, there were differences which became more apparent after his admittance to the hospital. This time the Dr. changed the type of his test, to a MRI, with contrast. This MRI showed us the ugly truth of what was really going on in his head. Even though they weren’t sure what it was they could see on the MRI, they knew it wasn’t a stroke, since it was so big. Less than 48 hours we were in a different hospital seeing a neurosurgeon. Now we faced decisions we never expected to ever deal with. Once the Dr. showed us the unknown mass was a tumor. He went on to explain what he thought the tumor was, he recommended surgery as soon as possible to give my husband more time. He said the tumor was a 5.6 x 6 centimeter growth. Too large to remove safely to save his life, but it would help give him more time. We filled out the Advanced Health Directive. Talked about the risk of surgery. We both knew he didn’t have much time.
Bill and I disagreed, he wanted the surgery, I did not.
Ultimately, I gave in. It was his body.
He had a craniotomy January 30, to remove the temporal brain tumor. Made it through the surgery just fine on that Wednesday morning. By Friday we were in a different room on the Neuro floor, with a diagnosis of brain cancer, and newly assigned Oncologist,Radiologists along with new appointments.
Then sent home Saturday morning, February 2. We didn’t do much, he got to take a bath, sleep in his own bed. He didn’t really have much to say. I was terrified.
Sunday morning. Easy, regular, except he had the bald head and large question mark shaped incision on the side of his head. He left the kitchen table, where he had been on the computer, said he needed to go to the bathroom. After a few minutes, he came out looking pale, holding the side of his head, saying his head hurt really bad. He went straight to his favorite blue chair, sat down and continued to hold the side of his head. I could see the incision was swollen larger than it had ever been. I ran for the kitchen, grabbed an ice pack from the freezer, put the ice pack on his head, ran back for the phone to call an ambulance. When I came back to the living room while talking to the EMS dispatcher he lost consciousness. He was sitting in his favorite blue chair.
Once the ambulance came, we discussed the plan to take him back to the hospital where he was operated on. I gave them the Advanced Directive saying his surgeon was at DePaul, take him there. Called friends and headed back to the hospital we had just left yesterday. It was a long horrible night, he never regained consciousness.
Later when I found his birth certificate and I noticed he died in the same hospital he had been born in.
I have started thinking of myself as a widow. But its June now.